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Weeds
Weeds can rarely show up in unplanted farm blocks, initially looking like wheat until they hit their 4th growth stage. They slow down crop growth for other crops around them, grow quickly in all conditions (hydration, light level, and nearby crops are all ignored), and spread to adjacent empty farm blocks when they reach their final growth stage.  Weeds have a hardness of 2, drop nothing, and can be quickly removed with a hoe.  Hoes will not break other crop blocks at all (much like a sword in creative mode).

Placing down cloth ground cover (carpets) will inhibit their growth, but its not perfect.  Weeds will occasionally grow up through the carpet anyway, breaking it and dropping it as an item, but it severely reduces the rate of weeds appearing.

While weeds will slow the growth of crops around them, even a unattended farm that is left to become completely overgrown will eventually produce food, as the weeds don't grow anywhere except unused farmland.  Dual-planting your farms is another way to restrict weed growth, simply by crowding it out by using two or more crop types, maintaining the full growth efficiency that would otherwise be lost by full utilization with a single crop.

Weeds

Growth rate comparison between open farm rows (left) and covered rows (right).

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